Left – Glaston Toft, Ryan Gonzalez, Thomas McGuane and Cameron MacDonald. Cover – Glaston Toft, Ryan Gonzalez, Thomas McGuane and Cameron MacDonald. Photos – Jeff Busby.
The oppressive heat of Melbourne on Saturday couldn’t keep the fans away from the opening night of Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
From the opening number the audience was singing along to the soundtrack and bopping down the aisles, as the bio-musical smashed out hit after hit from the Four Seasons repertoire. Forget “Oh What a Night!” Let’s talk about “What a Score!” The music was non-stop and was the star of this production.
Not to discredit the remarkable talents of the angel voiced Ryan Gonzalez (Kinky Boots, Strictly Ballroom) as Frankie Valli. Gonzalez brought the character to life navigating the journey of wide-eyed innocent teenager to confident front man with ease.
The story is told in four parts, each of the “seasons” narrates a section and gives their perspective the band’s rise and demise. Cameron MacDonald as Tommy DeVito, the wise cracking gangster desperate to escape New Jersey has the perfectly smooth tones befitting the charming if somewhat tragic character.
Thomas McGuane is a standout in his professional debut as Bob Gaudio, the last member to join the band and veritable song writing, hit making machine. There is softness to McGuane’s Gaudio which counteracts the harshness of MacDonald’s DeVito. And of course, last but not least, the self proclaimed “Ringo” of the band, Glaston Toff (The Bodyguard) as Nick Massi, the stable, dependable baritone. Massi first performed the role in 2009 and has a quiet ease with the material, giving a polished performance with an excellent dash of dry wit.
Unfortunately the female roles don’t have too much to work with and become superfluous characters amidst a sea of male dominated dialogue. The pace is fast as the story rushes through 30+ years of music history and characters aren’t given the time to develop as the narrative plows on to the next number.
But that’s why the audience is there. For the music. And it in that respect Jersey Boys doesn’t disappoint. Several show stopping performances had impromptu standing ovations and whilst carefully crafted, the sincerity of Gonzalez’s “Too Good to be True” is a truly special moment of theatre.
The tried and tested Jukebox musical returns to Melbourne after a decade away and has proven its value all these years on and it’s easy to see why, Jersey Boys is a perfectly timed piece of nostalgia backed by a brilliant soundtrack that will leave you joyously humming a Four Seasons tune.
The Pelican Group presents
Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
book Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice | lyrics Bob Crewe | composer Bob Gaudio
Director Des McAnuff
Venue: Regent Theatre | 191 Collins St, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 28 Feb – 14 April 2019
Tickets: from $59